NUS Business School graduate Ms Veronica Eng (BBA Hons 1976) is the only Asian and only female in the ten-member Board of Permira, a leading European-based private equity firm with more than € 22 billion of funds under its management.
“My career in corporate finance started when I was first recruited into a finance firm upon my graduation from NUS,” said Ms Eng. “Although I did not know exactly what I wanted at that point of time, I knew I wanted to work in the corporate finance industry. So when opportunity came to do something related to the industry, I took it.”
It was this seizing of opportunities and focusing on what she wanted to do that made Ms Eng the Head of Corporate Finance at Schroder Investment Bank by 1985.
A true opportunist, Ms Eng chose not to pass the opportunity when the Director of Schroder Investment Bank invited her to be the founding partner of Permira – even when the switch from corporate finance to private equity was at a time of grim market outlook and required her to venture into uncharted territory.
“I figured I might as well take the plunge, do something adventurous and seize the opportunity,” shared Ms Eng. “It turned out to be the best investment I have ever made in my life.”
Today, with an established wealth of insight and experience in banking and finance, it was no surprise that Financial Times cited Ms Eng as the “most powerful woman in European private equity” in 2007. She was also named one of the Top 100 Women in European Finance and being described as “a pivotal figure in the firm”.
On what she thought was the reason for her accomplishments, Ms Eng felt she “was lucky” because she had a good mentor and had worked at “enlightened organizations” that looked beyond race, gender or nationality.
“Whether I was a female or an Asian was of no relevance,” she said. “Ability counted much more than age, sex or nationality.”
Ms Eng also attributed her success to her alma mater. She was thankful that the School gave her “incredible opportunities” and hoped that students would use the opportunities given by the School as launch platforms.
“My work at Permira required me to call on all that I have learnt at NUS as well as all my skills and knowledge from banking and finance,” said Ms Eng. “Without the school, I would not be here today.”
On what advice she would give to graduates, Ms Eng said: “Take opportunities. Travel as much as you can. But remember you are a Singaporean graduate so do much as you can.”